At a gathering for hundreds of members of the communities in Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Dovid Leibel, the president of the Achvas Torah communities, made an unusual statement for a chareidi leader when he emphasized that it is lechatchila (preferred behavior) for chareidi married men to enter the workforce.
Rabbi Elimelech Kornfeld, who oversees the Kehillas Hagra in Ramat Beit Shemesh, also attended the conference.
According to Rabbi Leibel, parents should have the option of enrolling their children in a yeshiva that offers degree-related studies or a cheider, a chareidi school that offers a comprehensive secular core curriculum.
“We keep mitzvos not only to maintain our identity but also because we believe that those who fulfill them and understand them will be blessed,” he continued.
It was emphasized by Rabbi Leibel that he has no intention of stopping anyone from being avreichim.
“Talmidei chachamim are respected by Achvas Torah and myself.
They are privileged in this world and the next if they can spend ten hours a day studying the Torah, immersing themselves in their studies even when sleeping or walking down the street.
“I spend the entire day studying in the Beis Midrash with people who want to learn the depths of the Torah, teach it, and have an impact on society.
Nobody is attempting to eject students who are deeply engrossed in their studies from the Beis Midrash.
My own network of kollelim is available to those who are studying while seated.
However, if someone feels that this is not their goal, they cannot see themselves studying for 10 hours every day, they lack the resources to do so, or they want to reach their full potential in the workforce, they are free to choose a different way of life.
This is not only acceptable, but it also satisfies the halacha that says that Torah without work will be invalid and result in sin.
The chareidi community’s attempts to preserve isolation were condemned by Rabbi Leibel: “One who is in a bubble will definitely be more corrected, but that is not the purpose.
It is not admirable to live on a desert island and refrain from stealing when there is no one to steal from.
Halacha compliance in the real world is significantly more difficult.
Only when there is a challenge can we learn to adapt, become resilient, and infuse ourselves as the Torah desires.
The working Torah community must adhere to halacha and uphold its principles while navigating the real world.
According to Rabbi Leibel, education can be achieved in a variety of ways, including by learning the required material while upholding a high degree of Yiddishkeit.
If it meets the needs of the child, he continued, parents can send their kids to cheider or yeshiva high school, and “Achvas Torah wouldn’t be needed,” as its purpose is to allow Torah-true Jews to integrate into the workforce while maintaining their adherence to the Torah.